MONROEVILLE, Pa. (Feb. 1, 2006) -- Former Pittsburgh Steelers star Lynn Swann appears to have locked up enough support to win the Republican Party nomination for Pennsylvania governor.
In the last regional GOP meeting before state Republicans meet to endorse a candidate, the NFL Hall of Famer picked up 33 unofficial commitments from party representatives. If they all follow through, he will have just over the 180 votes needed to win the party's official endorsement on Feb. 11.
Swann, 53, is seeking to become Pennsylvania's first black governor. Though he has revealed little about his political philosophy, he has said the Democratic Party has "taken the African-American vote for granted."
Supporters say his high profile and charisma make him the best candidate to take on Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell, who is expected to seek a second term.
Swann's leading opponent for the GOP nomination, former Lt. Gov. Bill Scranton, 58, has sharply criticized Swann's qualifications and promised to stay in the race through the May 16 primary with or without the party's backing.
Scranton's deputy campaign manager, Mike DeVanney, sought to downplay the significance of the straw voting. "This was a divided caucus. There's not clear support for Lynn Swann's candidacy," he said.
Swann was a wide receiver for the Steelers from 1974-83 and led his team to four Super Bowl victories. After retiring from football, he worked as a commentator for ABC Sports.